By Christian DiMartino
Nobody could’ve predicted at the start of 2020 that it would be as ghastly as it turned out to be. Talk about unpredictable. Speaking of unpredictable, here we are with less than a week before the Academy Awards- last year was a much quicker Oscar season, this one is much longer- and honestly… even I am not confident in what is going to win. Having said that, who the hell is? With the precursors being wildly over the map in certain categories, I expect the night to be, in some aspects, pretty surprising. Not a 2020 level of unpredictable, but I think the Academy has a few last minute tricks up their sleeves.
So, let’s hop to it.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Borat Subsequent MovieFilm
One Night in Miami
The White Tiger
Will Win– The Father: Here is one, for example, that I cannot put my finger on. The Golden Globes aren’t applicable, since they’re a blend of Original and Adapted. The Writers Guild went with Borat Subsequent MovieFilm, yet despite the clear love for Sacha Baron Cohen this year, I remain unconvinced. Nomadland seems like the obvious choice, since it’s the frontrunner for Best Picture… but there is also a clear love for The Father, which recently won the BAFTA. Not the easiest call, but I’m sticking to it.
Should Win- The Father: Adapting a play to the screen is tricky business in that often times the film adaptation feels like a filmed play. Yet if the material is strong enough, like, say, One Night in Miami or the bizarrely snubbed Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, then it hardly matters. The Father certainly has its theatrical roots, but I felt like the script, by Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton, transcended past it, making for a dizzying experience, but also, a gut-wrenching one.
Best Original Screenplay
Judas and the Black Messiah
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Will Win- The Trial of the Chicago 7: This category goes one of two ways: they either choose the more original screenplay, or they choose the movie they prefer, with strong writing. This year, the race is between The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Promising Young Woman, both of which could very well win. Yet I’ll also say this: while Nomadland is the frontrunner, I also believe that whatever wins this category could potentially win Best Picture. When Green Book won this award, I immediately knew it was winning Best Picture; I was right. When Parasite won this award, its fate was also sealed; I was right. With Aaron Sorkin’s Chicago 7 being a frontrunner for Best Editing, while it’s close, I’m going to predict this one.
Should Win- Promising Young Woman: My favorite of these films is Minari, but I’m going to vote for Promising Young Woman, because here is a film that takes your typical revenge story and turns it on itself. For a film as grim as this is, it also works effectively as a comedy, and it travels in directions that you would never suspect, and in clever ways. First and foremost though, it’s entertaining as hell, as all movies should be.
Lee Isaac Chung- Minari
Emerald Fennel- Promising Young Woman
David Fincher- Mank
Thomas Vinteberg- Another Round
Chloe Zhao- Nomadland
Will Win- Zhao: To paraphrase Miley Cyrus: She can’t stop, and she won’t stop. Zhao, who has picked up every precursor thus far, is poised to be the second female filmmaker to win the Oscar for Best Director. Seeing as she won the Directors Guild Award, that also further solidifies her chances. While last year had a shocker, with Bong Joon Ho winning the Best Director Oscar over DGA winner Sam Mendes, I’d still say to place your money on Zhao.
Should Win- Chung: I could go with any of these, honestly. All of them are so fabulously made. Yet Minari, again, is my favorite of these, and thus, my vote. Chung’s film sounds super boring on paper, and yet watching it I knew pretty early on that I was watching something special. It feels so real, it’s basically magic. It’s a wonderful work of beauty.
Best Supporting Actor
Sacha Baron Cohen- The Trial of the Chicago 7
Daniel Kaluuya- Judas and the Black Messiah
Leslie Odom Jr.- One Night in Miami
Paul Raci- Sound of Metal
LaKeith Stanfield- Judas and the Black Messiah
Will Win- Kaluuya: Like Zhao, this one is a pretty safe bet. Another one who has won across the board. And, well…
Should Win- Kaluuya: He should win too. All of these are strong performances, but Kaluuya’s is not only the strongest, but he runs away with the movie. Stanfield does great work too, but at the end of the day, it’s very much Kaluuya’s movie.
Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bakalova- Borat Subsequent MovieFilm
Glenn Close- Hillbilly Elegy
Olivia Colman- The Father
Amanda Seyfried- Mank
Yuh-Jung Youn- Minari
Will Win- Youn: This one has been slightly tricky, but as the precursor awards have gone on, it is looking like Youn will win. She picked up both the Screen Actors Guild and the BAFTA, and since it seems like the Academy kind of wants to spread the love with these films this year, this would be the place to reward Minari. Though, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: unless they were going to reward Glenn Close, they shouldn’t have nominated her. This is the 8th time, and while she has a slight chance, it’s very slight, since just about everyone hates the movie.
Should Win- Youn: A tough vote for me, since I really, really, really, REALLY want Glenn Close to have an Oscar, and she’s the greatest actress without one, and I truly loved her work in Hillbilly Elegy. Yet I feel the way about this film that I felt about her last nominated performance, The Wife: if she wins, I certainly won’t complain, but she’s done better work, and if she’s going to win, I’d want it to be for something special. Youn’s work is a lot like Minari itself: lovely, soulful, real. I’m on board with any of these, but yeah, I’ll vote for Youn as well.
Riz Ahmed- Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman- Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Anthony Hopkins- The Father
Gary Oldman- Mank
Steven Yeun- Minari
Will Win- Boseman: This one seemed like a shoo-in at first, but has since become a little less predictable. Hopkins is on the rise… but I still feel like come Oscar Sunday, Boseman’s final film role, a remarkable, unforgettable and powerful piece of work, will ultimately prevail. It was his finest hour; a grand feat of acting that not only showed us what he was truly capable of, but also showed us what a devastating loss it truly was. He will, more than likely, win…
Should Win- Hopkins: But… boy this is a tough one. In no way would I be upset by Boseman’s win, because he is brilliant in that film. Yet I give the slight edge to Hopkins, who might give his greatest performance ever in this film, and again, this is Anthony Hopkins we’re talking about. Hopkins’ work in The Father is a revelation: it’s a multi-layered performance that is brilliant in many ways. He shows us a man who is losing his grip on reality, while also showing us a man who still has shades of the man he used to be, while also depicting dementia in a way that you won’t soon forget. If the whole film wasn’t a showcase for how brilliant this performance is, just wait til you see the last five minutes, which are so moving and powerful, I walked out to my car afterwards and had a good cry. Hopkins probably won’t win, and because of that, I’ll give him my vote, at least. It’s close, but I’m sticking to it.
Viola Davis- Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Andra Day- The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Vanessa Kirby- Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand- Nomadland
Carey Mulligan- Promising Young Woman
Will Win- Mulligan: Here it is, the most unpredictable Best Actress race I have ever witnessed. Perhaps I’m overthinking it and the answer is very clear, but, eh. Seriously, nobody can make up their damn minds. The Golden Globe went to Day, which was a shocker, but solidified her nomination. She wasn’t nominated elsewhere, besides the Oscar. It’s clear they love the performance, but they don’t love the movie. The SAG went to Davis- they enjoy this movie a bit more, but they mustn’t love it too much since it wasn’t even nominated for Screenplay or Picture. There is much love for Nomadland, but McDormand just won an Oscar, and if the film wins Best Picture, she will get her third Oscar… but she did just win the BAFTA. I’m just going to throw a dart somewhere, and go with Mulligan. They clearly love the film, and I’m truly shocked she didn’t win any of the aforementioned precursors. I could be dead wrong, but nobody predicted Adrian Brodey’s win for The Pianist, and look how that turned out. Toughest call of the night- all great performances- and whoever is called will be a shocker. Shot in the dark 100%.
Should Win- Mulligan: But maybe I just picked her because I really want her to win. Because I do. I’m honestly on board with any of these, but Mulligan’s is my favorite. Fennell’s writing and Mulligan’s acting make the movie what it is. Perhaps the film will win Original Screenplay as a consolation prize, but all being well, I’m correct. Again, this is the most intriguing award of the night.
Judas and the Black Messiah
Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Will Win- Nomadland: This is, again, and unpredictable one, as it has been in recent years… but I suppose not a totally unpredictable one. Again, I think whatever upsets Nomadland lies in whatever wins Best Original Screenplay- so either The Trial of the Chicago 7, which is very much the kind of important movie the Academy goes for, or Promising Young Woman, which is very much not the kind of movie the Academy goes for, and we love it for it. It’s not a done deal, but there is so much love for this film (and contrary to me not personally voting for it on any of these, it still cracked my top five of the year) that it wouldn’t surprise me if it won. But look out for the upset.
Should Win- The Father: I will SCREAM at the top of my lungs if this film manages to win Best Picture. It’s not very likely, but eh, who knows. This was, in my humble opinion, the year’s Best Picture. Here is a film that plays tricks on you, not just for the sake of entertainment, but also to tap into the psyche of a man losing his grip on his own psyche. The film works as entertainment, but it isn’t necessarily “fun.” It’s just a powerful, heartbreaking, important film; a brilliantly acted masterwork that held me in its grip for 100 minutes, and moved me deeply.